Los Angeles’s homelessness crisis has quite literally reached the offices of City Hall.
In recent weeks, a typhus outbreak that has been tied to the explosion of encampments around the city has migrated into the building via flea-carrying rats.
The Los Angeles Times reported that at least one city employee had possibly contracted the disease while at work, and many others have spotted rodents around the premises.
Apparently, L.A’s City Hall is plagued by a stubborn rat infestation. According to The Times, rats have been spotted at various city-held events, including a Halloween celebration last year during which a rat was observed gnawing on a decorative pumpkin. The rats have been observed living in office plants around the complex while fleas have infested the City Hall carpets, as well.
City Council President Herb Wesson recently moved to investigate how much it would cost to have all of City Hall’s carpets removed and replaced with some other type of flooring. Wesson has also launched a review of the complex’s office plants to deduce which ones are most hospitable to the rodents.
Wesson has implied that the ongoing demolition of the Welton Becket–designed Parker Center nearby could also be a potential source for the increase in rats around City Hall.
Health officials across the state have been battling various disease outbreaks—including a deadly Hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego—that have proliferated as the number of unhoused Californians has skyrocketed in recent years. Los Angeles County officials declared a typhus outbreak in Downtown Los Angeles. A 2018 point-in-time count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that 31,285 Angelenos were living outdoors across the city.